Woods fires caddie Williams
Tiger Woods has parted company with long-time caddie Steve Williams after more than a decade of working together.
The former world number one, whose career has nosedived both on and off the course since a series of lurid revelations about his private life, won 13 of his 14 Major championships with the New Zealander - and the caddie admits that he was stunned by his former employer's decision.
Such was Woods's success during their 12 years together that Williams's 10 per cent of his employer's earnings was enough to make him New Zealand's highest paid 'sportsman' several times over the past decade.
"I want to express my deepest gratitude to Stevie for all his help, but I think it's time for a change," Woods said in a statement.
"Stevie is an outstanding caddie and a friend and has been instrumental in many of my accomplishments. I wish him great success in the future."
Woods has not named a replacement for Williams or said when he would return to competition from leg injuries. His Achilles' heel and knee problems are widely expected to force him out next month's US PGA Championship, the final Major of the year.
Williams, who had been a regular caddie for Woods since 1999, has recently been carrying the bag for Australia's Adam Scott while Woods has been injured.
And the 47-year-old admitted his shock at being let go.
""Needless to say this came as a shock.
"Given the circumstances of the past 18 months working through Tiger's scandal, a new coach and with it a major swing change and Tiger battling through injuries, I am very disappointed to end our very successful partnership at this time."
Woods and Williams had been thought to be one of the strongest working and personal relationships in golf, with the terrier-like Williams renowned for intervening - often in aggressive physical manner - when he believed fans or photographers were impeding his man.
The golfer did appear to criticise his caddie at last year's US Open at Pebble Beach, however.
Woods made comments that were widely interpreted as critical after the final round, with the player saying he had made three mental mistakes and gone against his instincts. He did however claim there was no tension between him and Williams.
Woods hurt his knee and Achilles tendon during the US Masters in April and has not played since he pulled out of the Players Championship in May after playing just nine holes.
He has not won a major since the 2008 US Open nor any tournament worldwide since November 2009 - when the scandal initially broke - and his world ranking has fallen to number 20.
Woods has also been trying to rebuild his golf swing and his private life following the breakup of his marriage after he confessed to a string of affairs.